Monday, September 10, 2012

Are we negotiating again?

Another Saturday, another lot buy.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about an estate sale where I purchased hundreds of books, new CDs, DVDs, and computer games.  During the transaction, Debbie, a sister of the deceased owner of the media bounty, mentioned that they also had comic books to sell, and asked if I would be interested.  I said yes, left my card, and promptly forgot about it.

Friday night, Debbie called, and said that she finally had sorted the 3500 to 4000 comic books, which were mostly from 1970s and early 1980s, and that they were ready to sell.  She also said that she had looked up their value online, and sidestepped my question of how much she wanted for the lot.  Still, I made an appointment to look at the comics on Saturday.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about selling comic books.  I still have two full boxes that I purchased in July that I haven’t even touched yet.  So, I decided to take a crash course in comic book sales.  Between Friday night and Saturday afternoon, I spent some time perusing the web, looking up everything I could find about buying/selling comic book collections. Forewarned is forearmed, so to speak.  Here are some tidbits that I gleaned from my research:

  • Comics from the 50s and 60s are worth the most.
  • Comics from the 80s to today are worth the least (or nothing at all).
  • Comics from the 70s are usually worth something.
  • Selling comic collections is not easy.

I also learned that most comic book dealers only offer between $.05 and $.10 per book for large collections.  After all, dealing with 3000 comic books is apt to be very labor intensive.  I also learned that to take a full value tax donation for the collection, if you believe it is worth more than $5000, you have to have the collection appraised, which, of course, costs money.

I also learned that as in all negotiations, the person who names a price first usually loses.

Satisfied that I knew enough to make an informed purchase decision, I decided to offer $350 for the collection, with no negotiation. 

Debbie was late for our meeting (she had the comic books in her SUV), so I chatted with her brother-in-law for a few minutes.  I learned that Debbie had spent weeks sorting and researching the comic books, and that she also had shopped them to a comic book store in Atlanta before offering them to me, but wasn’t satisfied with their offer.

When Debbie arrived, I looked over the collection, which consisted of eight long boxes, plus about four other boxes, which contained, as Debbie put it, the more expensive books, as well as comic/TV/movie-related magazines.  Again, I asked her how much she wanted for the lot.  She hesitated, and the asked for $1 per book.   I refused (nicely), and the price dropped to $.50 book.  After some more discussion, I offered my best (and only) deal of $350.  Ironically, she then admitted that was about what the comic book store had offered.

As she hesitated and thought about it, her sister and brother-in-law, who made up the original negotiating team for my media purchase, joined us.   Debbie asked their opinion about the offer, and to my semi-delight, they really didn’t care, and said so.   It seems that neither of them wanted to store the comic books any longer, nor go to the trouble of trying to donate them for maximum tax benefit.  So, after more back and forth, and after trying to negotiate her perceived most valuable comics out of the deal, we finally settled on my original price for the full lot.

After getting them home, I looked over the more expensive comic books, and listed a few of the graphic novels, one of which promptly sold to a buyer in Australia.  I also looked over the magazines, including bagged copies of Starlog, Star Trek magazines, and Dr. Who magazines, and after some research, discovered that those were worth money as well, and probably will help me recoup my investment without listing a single comic book.

I stored the rest of the boxes in our guest house, and I’m sure I’ll be hearing from Ella soon about getting rid of them because they are cluttering up the place.

Speaking of Ella, she also benefited from the buy.  As I’ve mentioned before, she’s a big Western buff, loving all things cowboy.  In fact, she wears one of her Western character shirts (i.e., the Virginian) on Saturday mornings, and it’s a running joke between us that when she wears said shirts, she finds something Western to add to her collection.  This Saturday though, despite wearing her Western shirt, she didn’t find anything, and we even talked about it on the way home.

Late Saturday evening, though, as I was going through the comic books, I found a book about The Wild, Wild West TV show, and gave it to her.  So, her streak is still alive.

How was your weekend?


  1. I have 4 older comics I picked up at a garage sale for $1. Just four. They are worth a few bucks but I totally dread listing them. Every crease, wrinkle and smudge has to be mentioned...and there's condition ratings....ugh! And you bought 3000? What's your plan for flipping them?

    1. I think I can sell the magazines for close to what I paid for the lot, then sell the lot to a dealer, and hopefully profit a little from the transaction. Yeah, I know it's a flimsy plan, but it's the best I have right now.

  2. I found some great stuff this week. Sounds like you did better though. Great job sticking to your guns! I hate negotiating.